Origin And Significance Of Jewish Sacrifices -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 028:109 (Jan 1871)
Article: Origin And Significance Of Jewish Sacrifices
Author: Anonymous

Origin And Significance Of Jewish Sacrifices

This Article will be devoted to a somewhat detailed account of certain theories of the Origin of Sacrifices which have been advanced at different times. The one to which attention will be first turned is that of John Spencer, as set forth in his celebrated work De Legibus Hebraeorum, written in Latin, and printed in 1685.

It was almost unavoidable that the long period of servitude which the Israelites passed through in Egypt should have had the effect of obliterating from their minds, to a very great extent, the knowledge of the true God, and creating an attachment to the modes of worship which were practised by their oppressors. The means which God saw fit to use to bring them back to their former purer belief were not such as might seem to us the most direct and efficient. He adopted, instead, a very circuitous method. The Israelites had been habituated while in Egypt to a mode of worship which abounded in sacrifices, and God chose, therefore, to incorporate similar observances into the Mosaic economy, lest by creating too violent a contrast between this economy and the Egyptian form of worship, the minds of the Hebrews should be filled with disgust, and should reject with abhorrence the new religion. Sacrifices neither in themselves, nor by virtue of that which they typify, are directly pleasing to the mind of God; they are tolerated merely, in condescension to human infirmity, as a necessary though disagreeable means of preventing a greater evil.

The language of Chrysostom in his sixth Homily on Matthew gives a correct statement of the true origin of sacrifices. “All the religious rites, he says, prescribed to the Jews, and especially sacrifices, had their origin in the rudeness of

paganism. God, in his care for the salvation of men, allowed such forms to be used in his own worship as had been employed in the worship of idols; those only which were of a positively sinful character being exluded. It was intended by this,” Chrysostom goes on to say, “to lead men by a gradual progress to a purer and less carnal form of worship.”

It will now be attempted to show that sacrifices formally considered, that is to say, as offerings to Jehovah, are to be traced, not to divine appointment, but rather to the gross modes of thinking common among pagan nations.

We quote first the language used by David in Psa. 51:16: “For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; thou delightest not in burnt-offering.” The reader will easily recall Paul’s allusion to this passage in the tenth of Hebrews. The words of Theophylact, commenting on this passage, are very pertinent: ...

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